Dec. 4, 2012 by David Hunter

World Bank Risks Weakening Environmental and Social Standards

The World Bank has started a process that appears likely to weaken its environmental and social safeguard policies.  Although the Bank has repeatedly stated there will be no “dilution” of the policies, the Bank’s scoping paper released in October and its ongoing consultations clearly reveal a desire to replace clear standards with discretion and deference to its developing country borrowers.  The Bank, whose environmental and social safeguard policies have long provided important minimum standards for protecting communities affected by international development projects, now runs the risk of sacrificing its leadership role, disempowering affected communities, and forfeiting development effectiveness by once again financing projects that are human rights and environmental disasters. 

Of course the Bank doesn’t say in so many words that it wants to deregulate, but the goals of the policy review is now clear from their scoping paper.  It speaks of the desire to take a less “prescriptive” approach and one that will be more “supportive” of its developing country borrowers.  Nothing in the paper speaks to protecting minimum rights or interests of affected people.  The Bank anticipates that one of the risks is they will be “perceived to weaken their standards,” implicitly dismissing the likelihood they …

Dec. 3, 2012 by Robert Verchick

Property lawyers in the United States love the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD). There’s such a rich history. The doctrine, which holds that important resources must be held “in trust” for public use, originated in Roman law. Centuries later it was forced on King John through the Magna Carta. During America’s industrial revolution, our Supreme Court invoked the doctrine to defend Chicago’s shoreline from hungry rail barons (the case is called Illinois Central Railroad), and we’ve had it ever since.

The PTD fascinates us at CPR too: we see it as a potentially powerful way to protect water resources in the United States. (Visit our Public Trust Doctrine page.) But some of the most interesting and expansive uses of the PTD are taking place on the other side of the world—in India. To learn more about those developments, I turned to Shibani Ghosh …

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